Practice Makes Perfect:Theros

Get some more information about Theros Limited before your next PTQ as Frank walks you through a Theros Draft event he participated in on Magic Online.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked about various aspects of Theros Limited. While going over the intricacies and nuances of a format is always helpful, there’s nothing quite like diving headfirst into a draft and seeing what happens. That’s why today we’re going to fire up Magic Online and do just that.

Here goes nothing!

Pack 1 Pick 1

Battlewise Valor Nessian Asp Viper's Kiss Lost in a Labyrinth Agent of Horizons Fade Into Antiquity Satyr Rambler Observant Alseid Borderland Minotaur Scholar of Athreos Island Akroan Hoplite Rescue from the Underworld Sealock Monster Sylvan Caryatid

Right off the bat I was met with a tough pick. The two standout cards are Sylvan Caryatid and Nessian Asp, which are both green. Even though picking one might send a green signal to the left, they’re so much better than the rest that it’s worth it. I ended up taking Caryatid because although Nessian Asp is one of the best top end creatures it’s replaceable by lesser cards like Vulpine Goliath. Ramping in green is very important, and the only other card that lets you do so from the two-mana slot is Voyaging Satyr.

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 2

Leafcrown Dryad Chosen by Heliod Pheres-Band Centaurs Defend the Hearth Leonin Snarecaster Priest of Iroas Read the Bones Thassa's Bounty Ray of Dissolution Wavecrash Triton Forest Glare of Heresy Witches' Eye Meletis Charlatan

An easy follow-up pick with Leafcrown Dryad. Leafcrown Dryad is a very good card that comes at a great rate for bestow or simply casting it. I would play as many of these as I could get my hands on in any green Theros Draft deck.

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 3

Messenger's Speed Gods Willing Read the Bones Last Breath Unknown Shores Crackling Triton Portent of Betrayal Felhide Minotaur Borderland Minotaur Swamp Glare of Heresy Destructive Revelry Flamespeaker Adept

Unfortunately no mono-green card here to supply an easy pick. I was between Gods Willing and Read the Bones for a while but eventually went with the more consistently powerful Read the Bones.

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 4

Stymied Hopes Nessian Courser Lash of the Whip Benthic Giant Annul Traveling Philosopher Wild Celebrants Setessan Griffin Vaporkin Swamp Satyr Piper Decorated Griffin

This pick was between Nessian Courser and Lash of the Whip. I don’t really like Lash that much, and other than Asp I hadn’t passed any green cards to the left. I took Nessian Courser to help ensure the person next to me wouldn’t end up in green so I wouldn’t get cut pack 2.

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 5

Bronze Sable Ephara's Warden Fate Foretold Thassa's Bounty Lagonna-Band Elder Priest of Iroas Fade Into Antiquity Scholar of Athreos Swamp Stoneshock Giant Coordinated Assault

An underwhelming pack aside from the late Stoneshock Giant and Coordinated Assault. I took this as a signal to move into red and picked up Stoneshock Giant. Although Assault is one of the best tricks in the set, in R/G decks Stoneshock Giant reads, "Pay eight mana and win the game."

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 6

Sip of Hemlock Stymied Hopes Ill-Tempered Cyclops Breaching Hippocamp Silent Artisan Mountain Burnished Hart Tormented Hero Sentry of the Underworld Temple of Silence

This was the deciding pick between black and red. Since I had just received a fifth-pick Stoneshock Giant, I figured red was going to be more open in the long run and moved in.

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 7

Prescient Chimera Fleetfeather Sandals Aqueous Form Silent Artisan Spearpoint Oread Shredding Winds Boulderfall Mountain Flamecast Wheel

Not much going on here, just another decent red playable.

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 8

Annul Titan's Strength Yoked Ox Wild Celebrants Triton Shorethief Cavern Lampad Swamp Prowler's Helm

I was between Titan’s Strength and Prowler’s Helm for this pick. Since Titan’s Strength works so well with the Spearpoint Oread I just picked up, I gave it the nod.

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 9

Viper's Kiss Lost in a Labyrinth Agent of Horizons Satyr Rambler Borderland Minotaur Scholar of Athreos Island

Tabling a decent red card further backed my feeling that red was going to be open.

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 10

Defend the Hearth Priest of Iroas Ray of Dissolution Forest Glare of Heresy Witches' Eye

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 11

Messenger's Speed Last Breath Unknown Shores Swamp Glare of Heresy

With Sylvan Caryatid, you never know when you might want to splash.

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 12

Bronze Sable Benthic Giant Wild Celebrants Decorated Griffin Swamp

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 13

Ephara's Warden Thassa's Bounty Swamp

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 14

Stymied Hopes Mountain

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 15

My Pick

Coming out of pack 1, I was happy with where the deck was going. I had established myself solidly into R/G, and although I let the Nessian Asp go to my left, that was all the green I passed so I wasn’t too worried about getting cut off pack 2. Going into pack 2, I was looking to pick up some removal, more mana ramp, and a few more solid threats.

Pack 2 Pick 1

Ephara's Warden Sip of Hemlock Stymied Hopes Blood-Toll Harpy Benthic Giant Voyaging Satyr Spearpoint Oread Unknown Shores Savage Surge Disciple of Phenax Mountain Peak Eruption Nylea's Emissary Dauntless Onslaught Anthousa, Setessan Hero

This pick was one of the tougher picks of the whole draft. First off, I don’t like Anthousa all that much. In my experience, it usually ends up being a five-mana 4/5, which is decent but not great. The real pick was between Voyaging Satyr and Nylea’s Emissary. Although ramp is precious and hard to come by, trample is even more so. Having a giant creature won’t do you any good if you can’t get it through chump blockers. The fact that the Emissary can also be played as a decent four-drop put it over the top for me.

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 2

Nylea's Presence Minotaur Skullcleaver Nimbus Naiad Aqueous Form Asphodel Wanderer Wingsteed Rider Two-Headed Cerberus Vulpine Goliath Staunch-Hearted Warrior Plains Burnished Hart Insatiable Harpy Arena Athlete Pyxis of Pandemonium

Two-Headed Cerberus is a very hit-or-miss type of card. On its own, it’s not nearly good enough. The way my deck was fleshing out, however, it looked like I would be able to boost its stats to a point where it would be a real threat.

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 3

Dragon Mantle Omenspeaker Spearpoint Oread Unknown Shores Aqueous Form Asphodel Wanderer Wingsteed Rider Borderland Minotaur Sedge Scorpion Swamp Kragma Warcaller Prowler's Helm Colossus of Sardia

I already had one Spearpoint Oread at this point, so I wasn’t too concerned with getting a second. I did heavily consider Dragon Mantle, especially right after the Cerberus pick, but at the end of the day, Sedge Scorpion is just too important. R/G has trouble interacting with creatures with more than three toughness, and Sedge Scorpion is one of the few ways to keep them in check. Plus, having a one-drop makes any Ordeal you might pick up that much stronger.

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 4

Viper's Kiss Pheres-Band Centaurs Silent Artisan Time to Feed Blood-Toll Harpy Breaching Hippocamp Voyaging Satyr Deathbellow Raider Opaline Unicorn Forest Witches' Eye Triton Tactics

This pick was a tough one that I’m not sure I made correctly. Interaction and ramp are both very important in green decks. My decks was already heavy on four-mana creatures and bestow cards, so I decided to go with the Satyr. I also reasoned that my creatures so far were great fighters without already being enhanced by bestow.

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 5

Omenspeaker March of the Returned Traveling Philosopher Two-Headed Cerberus Silent Artisan Traveler's Amulet Boulderfall Plains Vanquish the Foul Akroan Hoplite Sentry of the Underworld

Not many options here; looks like I’m moving towards the Cerberus plan.

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 6

Messenger's Speed Lost in a Labyrinth Pharika's Cure Feral Invocation Returned Centaur Wavecrash Triton Traveler's Amulet Swamp Chronicler of Heroes Artisan's Sorrow

The perfect card to go along with the Two-Headed Cerberuses. I was very happy to pick this up.

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 7

Omenspeaker Breaching Hippocamp Vulpine Goliath Asphodel Wanderer Titan's Strength Staunch-Hearted Warrior Plains Gainsay Warriors' Lesson

At this point, it looked like my deck was going to be more of a small creatures + enchantments build than one that ramps into fatties. Two-Headed Cerberus and Staunch-Hearted Warrior work well in the same shell.

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 8

Plains Demolish Ephara's Warden Fleshmad Steed Coastline Chimera Satyr Hedonist Plains Battlewise Hoplite

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 9

Ephara's Warden Stymied Hopes Benthic Giant Spearpoint Oread Savage Surge Mountain Peak Eruption

I always like to have one Savage Surge as a gotcha card in a deck like this. Spearpoint Oread is very expensive to bestow and not very exciting as a creature, so I didn’t mind passing on the second copy for now.

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 10

Nylea's Presence Minotaur Skullcleaver Asphodel Wanderer Vulpine Goliath Staunch-Hearted Warrior Plains

Moving deeper in on the Cerberus/Staunch-Hearted plan.

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 11

Unknown Shores Asphodel Wanderer Borderland Minotaur Swamp Prowler's Helm

The deck was getting very heavy on four-cost creatures at this point, so picking up another didn’t seem ideal. Having access to Helm can be crucial in certain matchups.

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 12

Pheres-Band Centaurs Breaching Hippocamp Forest Witches' Eye

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 13

Silent Artisan Boulderfall Plains

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 14

Lost in a Labyrinth Swamp

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 15

My Pick

At the start of pack 2, I was gearing towards being the usual ramp-into-fatties brand of R/G. A few Two-Headed Cerberuses and Staunch-Hearted Warriors later it looked like I was going for the enhancement plan instead. I had some getting there to do at this point and went into pack 3 looking for Lightning Strike / Magma Jet and ways to boost my hyphenated brethren.

Pack 3 Pick 1

Guardians of Meletis Battlewise Valor Loathsome Catoblepas Hopeful Eidolon Fate Foretold Portent of Betrayal Observant Alseid Setessan Battle Priest Triton Shorethief Forest Cutthroat Maneuver Magma Jet Rescue from the Underworld Triton Fortune Hunter Temple of Triumph

At first glance, this pick seems like an obvious Magma Jet. I did however waver on Hopeful Eidolon for a long time. That card is so incredibly powerful that it would have added another dimension to my deck. Between Sylvan Caryatid and Unknown Shores, I was tempted to go for it and try to pick up a little more fixing this pack. I ended up deciding against the idea because I thought my deck was good enough without having to get greedy and I didn’t want to risk not having double red for Cerberus on turn 3.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 2

Minotaur Skullcleaver Chosen by Heliod Mnemonic Wall Griptide Satyr Hedonist Satyr Rambler Leonin Snarecaster Feral Invocation Felhide Minotaur Shredding Winds Mountain Peak Eruption Ordeal of Erebos Flamespeaker Adept

Back again to be the perfect card for my strategy.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 3

Lash of the Whip Two-Headed Cerberus Vulpine Goliath Annul Titan's Strength Yoked Ox Staunch-Hearted Warrior Scholar of Athreos Island Gainsay Stoneshock Giant Dauntless Onslaught Psychic Intrusion

Getting a second Stoneshock Giant here was awesome. It ensured that I had a good late game to go with the mana ramp I already had and gave me a way to win even if I fell behind.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 4

Chosen by Heliod Pheres-Band Centaurs Returned Centaur Griptide Commune with the Gods Spark Jolt Akroan Crusader Savage Surge Forest Battlewise Hoplite Vanquish the Foul Dark Betrayal

This pack was disappointing. I knew the only way I would play Akroan Crusader was if I managed to spike a late Ordeal this pack, but I figured it was worth the risk over taking another Savage Surge I probably wouldn’t maindeck.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 5

Gods Willing Nessian Courser March of the Returned Dragon Mantle Annul Wild Celebrants Cavern Lampad Boulderfall Island Nylea's Emissary Favored Hoplite

It probably seems weird that I would take Dragon Mantle here after going on about how great Nylea’s Emissary is. Although Emissary is the more powerful card, having Dragon Mantle is very important. The card draw helps smooth out your mana base, it works spectacularly with all the first strike I had, and it does all of this on the cheap. I knew I wanted at least one Dragon Mantle for this deck and that this was probably my last opportunity to pick one up.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 6

Divine Verdict Guardians of Meletis Prescient Chimera Demolish Spearpoint Oread Vulpine Goliath Yoked Ox Ray of Dissolution Wavecrash Triton Plains

Based on the nature of my deck and the fact that I just picked up a Dragon Mantle, Spearpoint Oread was more important than Vulpine Goliath here. The two Stoneshock Giants I already had were more than enough late game for this type of deck.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 7

Messenger's Speed Mnemonic Wall Benthic Giant Traveling Philosopher Two-Headed Cerberus Setessan Battle Priest Forest Dark Betrayal Satyr Piper

Although I might not play a third, the pickings were slim.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 8

Prescient Chimera Demolish Priest of Iroas Fade Into Antiquity Returned Centaur Shredding Winds Plains Anvilwrought Raptor

A decent sideboard card to get your hands on. Shredding Winds was also an option here, but every deck will have some enchantments while not every deck will have fliers.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 9

Guardians of Meletis Battlewise Valor Loathsome Catoblepas Fate Foretold Setessan Battle Priest Triton Shorethief Forest

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 10

Minotaur Skullcleaver Satyr Rambler Felhide Minotaur Shredding Winds Mountain Peak Eruption

Not bad for such a late pickup. I knew it was going to make the deck and was happy to get one.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 11

Two-Headed Cerberus Annul Yoked Ox Scholar of Athreos Island

Well, I’m definitely not playing four, but again there wasn’t much to be had here.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 12

Pheres-Band Centaurs Savage Surge Forest Vanquish the Foul

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 13

Wild Celebrants March of the Returned Island

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 14

Guardians of Meletis Plains

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 15

My Pick

At the end of the draft, I was pleased with where I ended up. My deck had good synergy, ramp, and a lot of bestow, which is always a good place to be. I had quite a few options in terms of playable cards, but this is where I ended up:


Before I get into the games, let me cover a few key decision points. Two Two-Headed Cerberuses felt like the right number, especially with two Staunch-Hearted Warriors to back them up. I didn’t want to risk running thin on ways to pump by overloading on pumpable creatures. As for Prowler’s Helm, although it would have been strong in this deck, I just couldn’t find the room for it. The two Stoneshock Giants and Nylea’s Emissary were left in charge of pushing blockers through.

I decided to only play sixteen lands in this deck. I had Voyaging Satyr, Sylvan Caryatid, and Dragon Mantle, plus the monstrosity on Stoneshock Giant was my only mana cost over six. Even though my deck was much heavier on red, I went with an 8 / 8 Forest / Mountain split. All of my one- and two-mana creatures were green, so having it early was important. Sylvan Caryatid makes red mana on its own, and Voyaging Satyr makes a second red to cast all of my double-red spells to boot.

Match 1: U/B Control

Game 1 was pretty unexciting. After we both mulliganed to six, I was able to curve out and use a few combat tricks to seal the deal against his suboptimal draw. Although game 1 was an easy win, U/B Control is a poor matchup for a deck like this that relies heavily on a single threat. Unfortunately, I didn’t pick up many sideboard options, so no changes were made for game 2. I could have brought in a Wild Celebrants to have more individually powerful threats, but it didn’t seem worth it.

Game 2 I kept a hand of four lands, Feral Invocation, Two-Headed Cerberus, and Staunch-Hearted Warrior on the draw. After drawing Nylea’s Emissary for my turn, I was feeling pretty good about my chances. However, my opponent played a turn 3 Meletis Charlatan into a Thoughtseize, using the Charlatan’s copy ability. After taking the Feral Invocation and Nylea’s Emissary, I was left with weak creatures, and my opponent had no problem winning with his more powerful threats.

Game 3 I got to be on the play and curved Satyr Hedonist into Two-Headed Cerberus backed with Leafcrown Dryad. Although my opponent was able to Voyage’s End the Cerberus after one hit, I had more creatures to follow it up. My opponent was forced to use a Sea God’s Revenge to stem my offense, but he didn’t have much pressure to back it up and was forced to bounce a Leafcrown Dryad and a Spearpoint Oread in the process, which allowed me to recast them for their bestow costs.

Match 2: B/W Drain Control

Game 1 of this match was one of the more interesting games of Theros Limited I have played. My opponent played the usually underwhelming Setessan Battle Priest but suited it up with double Chosen by Heliod. I was able to enter an arms race by bestowing a Nylea’s Emissary and a Leafcrown Dryad on my Minotaur Skullcleaver. Even though I was able to match his seven toughness with seven power, he put a Gift of Immortality on the Battle Priest and used it to soak damage each turn. Between all of the life-gain triggers, Scholar of Athreos, and a timely Gray Merchant of Asphodel, my opponent was able to barely eke out the last few points before I could overwhelm his defense.

For this match, I boarded out Satyr Hedonist in favor of Fade Into Antiquity. The 2/1 body didn’t match up well against all the defensive creatures, and white has a lot of good targets for Fade.

Game 2 produced a nut draw on my end. Sylvan Caryatid ramped into a turn 3 Staunch-Hearted Warrior that I bestowed with Leafcrown Dryad the following turn. Attacking with a 6/6 on turn 4 is an easy way to put your opponent on the back foot, and a Feral Invocation the following turn wrapped things up. I even had Fade Into Antiquity in hand for any Baleful Eidolon or Gift of Immortality shenanigans that my opponent could have had.

Game 3 was a classic example of why I love Stoneshock Giant so much. Although my opponent was on the play and set up a lot of early defense, I was able to sit back, build up an army, hit eight mana, and win in one 30 damage attack. Simple as that.

Match 3: R/W Heroic

I kept a solid opening seven, but my opponent’s draw was extremely strong: turn 2 Akroan Hoplite, turn 3 Wingsteed Rider, turn 4 Anax and Cymede, turn 5 Dragon Mantle and Titan’s Strength on Anax and Cymede, turn 6 Hopeful Eidolon and Gods Willing on Anax and Cymede. I was able to put up a small fight with a Sedge Scorpion and Nessian Courser bestowed with Leafcrown Dryad, but without any direct interaction, I couldn’t really compete.

When the heroic deck works in any of its forms, it is a force to be reckoned, with and my opponent’s deck was no exception. Unfortunately, my deck had little choice but to try to be the aggressor, and in an aggro versus aggro matchup, the faster deck usually wins. For this match, I boarded out both Feral Invocations in favor of Fade Into Antiquity and the second Savage Surge. Although Feral Invocation could make my creatures permanently outclass my opponent’s, it is too slow, and Savage Surge is a much better option when racing damage.

Game 2 played out a lot like the first except this time instead of Anax and Cymede it was Phalanx Leader that was targeted an insane amount of times. Even with a well-placed Savage Surge, I couldn’t close out the game before his growing army overwhelmed me.

I’ve drafted this style of R/G a few times before and have had mixed results. Going all in on Two-Headed Cerberus and Staunch-Hearted Warrior is a risky proposition that doesn’t always pay off. Getting an on-color Ordeal would have made the deck a lot better. My deck was reasonable this time around, but it is usually safer to stick to ramping into giant creatures when it comes to R/G. Looking back, the one thing that I’m not sure about is if I should have taken Time to Feed over Voyaging Satyr early in pack 2. Although Time to Feed is incredible with Staunch-Hearted Warrior, I wasn’t really committed to that plan at the time of the pick, so it is hard to tell. On the other hand, picking up interactive cards is crucial in this set to make sure you don’t roll over to heroic like I ended up doing.

What do you think I did right? What do you think I did wrong? What are your thoughts on R/G as an archetype in Theros Limited?